Resources for Writers: Print and Online Literary Journal Databases

Hello Readers!

As promised, here is an updated list for print and online journals. I managed to transfer my online database into Excel, but I’m still Wording it for the Print journals. I know Excel would be easier, so that’s on the list for the future. For now, though, here are some journals – get out there and Submit!

Online Literary Journals

The Short Story Writer’s Literary Journal Database

Advertisements

Willamette Writers’ Conference – Day 3

Willamette Writers

Controlling Story Layers with ED ACE – Eric Witchey

Eric Witchey’s seminar on story layers was another of those “aha!” seminars, just like Larry Brooks’ the day before. In addition, Eric was incredibly generous with the resources he provided to attendees in the shape of an entire craft booklet to assist with understanding story layers. Again, your best resource is to visit Eric Witchey’s website and try to find a seminar you can attend.

To break it down a bit, story layers is the concept that a story is driven by emotion – wow, big surprise, right? While we can all acknowledge that story is drive by emotion, what we may not understand – or be doing yet in our writing – is moving through the story layers completely. Here it is: Emotion drives Decision. Decision drives Action. Action leads to Conflict. And Conflict results in Emotion. The cycle starts all over again with the new Emotion. Characters in our stories are constantly moving through this process, and may even be engaging in more than one ED ACE cycle.

For more on this, and so find one of Eric’s seminars, go to his website: Eric Witchey

Rx for Middle Maladies – Jessica Morrell

Unfortunately, the demons that live in our computers corrupted Jessica’s file for this presentation, but we nonetheless had an engaging discussion and were able to still learn much about the vital role performed by the middle of our novels, what we often think of as Act II.

Act II should start with the First Plot Point – a moment of major fall-out for the character in which everything changes and the protagonist must make a change or decision. We then begin climbing the mountain of rising action as more and more trials come into play and threaten the protagonist’s ability to achieve his or her goals. Act II is also where the subplots should play out. Allies will appear in Act II. Act II continues until the crisis – the moment when all hope seems lost and the protagonist hits bottom.

Besides the above beats that we want to hit in Act II, the over arching theme of Act II should be the continual denial of the goal, the rising of the stakes, and pushing the protagonist into deeper, darker places, often resulting in the narrator making mistakes and crossing a moral line. Overall, Act II is about playing keep-away with your protagonist and creating situations that further heighten just how badly the protagonist wants something while simultaneously making it feel as if he or she will never achieve it.

To learn more about Jessica, visit her website through the link I provided on Day 1.

 

Punching Up Your Prose: Part I and II – Tex Thompson

Listening to Tex Thomspon for 2 hours and being continually captivated by her genius and entertained by her constant wit and humor was worth the conference fee alone. Tex was absolutely riveting in her discussion of punching up our prose. Using her knowledge of rhetorical devices, Tex explained how we can use various techniques to make our prose more vivid, eye-catching, and ear-popping. As Tex herself said, these are the techniques that keep readers seeking out the “eargasms” in our writing.

One of Tex’s points about sentence structure and length was that “excellent writing should look like interval training.” We should use the length and structure of our sentences to underscore what’s happening in the story. Short choppy sentences = action. Long winding sentences = description/exposition. We can use positions of emphasis to help readers follow our meaning: the last thing in the sentence is the most important; the first thing is the second most; and the middle of a sentence is for the least important. Alternately, we can flip that expectation on its head and hide important information in the middle of a sentence (such as a clue in a mystery or thriller), or we can flip the expectation on its head to catch the reader’s attention.

Tex is another of this year’s presenters that I cannot speak of highly enough. I strongly recommend reading her work and keeping an eye out for any workshops or seminars where she is teaching. You can learn more about Tex at: Tex Thompson

Willamette Writers’ Conference – Day 2

Willamette Writers

Excellence 102: The Essential Nature of Dramatic Arc – Larry Brooks

I cannot recommend Larry Brooks highly enough. Larry is personable, funny, and warm. And his ability to analyze story structure and present it to writers is truly a gift to any who can attend his lectures or read his books. Reading Larry’s craft book Story Engineering helped me to create the novel that I finished and pitched at this year’s festival (and received 4 out of 5 Yes’s to). Larry is also incredibly generous with his resources, making much of his work available online. Attempting to condense Larry’s brilliance down to a paragraph or two would not do justice to the depth of his knowledge, nor could I possibly explain it as clearly and approachably as he does, so I’m going to provide a link to his website and let you all experience the magic of story structure for yourself.

As someone who trained writing short stories, I never thought I had a novel in me. I’m a “pantser” when it comes to short stories, but through his book and website, I found a path to my novel and am starting the outline for my next one. Truly folks, stop reading my blog (thanks for doing that, by the way) and go to his website: Larry Brooks – Story Fix

 

The Web of Character – Hallie Ephron

This seminar on character presented the idea that characters are all at work for or against your protagonist. Most often, the characters in our novels are working both for and against the protagonist, and from the juxtaposition of various character needs and wants, we arrive at conflict, tension, and an engaging narrative arc. In this lecture, we explored the characters in The Wizard of Oz. At the center of the web is Dorothy who wants to get home. Around Dorothy are the others characters in the story, such as Glinda and the Wicked Witch, as well as the Wizard, the Tin Man, the Lion, etc. Take the Wizard, for instance, his greatest desire is for the witch’s broom and in order to get the broom, he must send Dorothy into the witch’s castle to kill the witch (something he doesn’t tell her she’ll have to do). The bargain he strikes with Dorothy – broom for help getting home – puts Dorothy in danger, thus the Wizard is both working for and against Dorothy. Characters such as the Tin Man or the Lion are Dorothy’s allies, but they also have their own agenda: to get a brain, to get a heart, etc and because of their characters, they also work against Dorothy, such as the Lion’s repeated fear of going into the unknown, which is exactly where they need to go in order to succeed. Each character in our novels should have multiple goals – i.e. either to work with or against the protagonist, but also to achieve some agenda of their own.

To learn more about Hallie and her publications, visit: Hallie Ephron

 

Corporeal Writing Part I – Lidia Yuknavitch

Stop what you’re doing right now (and thanks for coming back here after visiting Larry’s site, by the way) and go to Lidia Yuknavitch’s website: Corporeal Writing with Lidia Yuknavitch.

Lidia’s seminar on Corporeal Writing: writing on the body – was another of the life-changing seminars I attended. Ok, so that sounds pretty dramatic, right? Life-changing? Seriously? YES.

This seminar alone has generated some surprising writing and will continue to generate writing that I can use in my fiction or memoir writing for years to come. Lidia’s approach is all about putting it on the body, looking for that place in or on the body where the emotional truth of a story has landed. Here’s what Lidia had to say: “My body had a story that my mind was hiding from me.” To try this out, do this exercise from our class: Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Where does your mind go or center on? It could be a place that’s uncomfortable or tingly or just hyper-aware. Now, take that spot of your body and write a story about it from childhood, preferably a true one, but you can make it up if you need to. Then, write about that place on your body right here and now. What does it feel like, what is it telling you? Now, go through both pieces of writing and circle the descriptive words: adjectives, adverbs, or particularly active verbs. Transfer this to a list. Study the list. What is this list trying to tell you?

Briefly, here’s how this exercise worked for me: I centered on my lower left back, a place that frequently hurts or aches. I wrote about rolling down the hill at my grandmother’s house and how we would bump along the hard-packed Indiana dirt. For whatever reason, this memory sprang to mind, probably because I bruised my back (and my body as a whole) doing this. Then, I wrote about how that pain felt as I sat in that seminar room and compared it to a sunflower, the long stalk rising for weeks, the slow blossoming of the yellow petals, and the seeds ready to be plucked and roasted. My list contained a lot of color words, nature descriptors, and cooking metaphors. What did this tell me? That I am drawn to writing about nature and that who I am now is highly informed by my youth in Indiana. I can look to these places to generate more work – work that will be true and evocative.

I gave you her website right up front because I simply can’t explain it with the same level of humor and clarity that Lidia provides. She leads workshops in the Portland area and you need to get on this asap since all her workshops are currently sold out.

 

Writing for Television: A panel – Moderated by Waka Brown with Sandra Leviton and Kaila York

In this panel discussion, Sandra Leviton and Kaila York discussed the pathway to becoming a television writer. The truth is, unless you’re willing to move to L.A. and move through the traditional route, writing for television can be very difficult, but not impossible. For those of us who are rooted in Portland, our path would involve finding an agent or manager who can get our original pilot to a network producer. Then would come meetings (in L.A.) and should our pilot get picked up or should our agent find us a spot writing for a current television program, we would still need to move to L.A. for the season. They suggested that the best path for non-L.A. residents is to submit our work to contests and fellowships. There are many websites where you can search for these kinds of contests, but one I’ve found helpful is: MovieBytes Screenwriting Competitions.

Willamette Writers’ Conference – Day 1

Willamette Writers  This was my first year attending the Willamette Writers’ Conference, and I was inspired by the love of craft and dedication to practice displayed by the attendees and presenters alike. Here is my brief re-cap of the sessions I attended, as well as links to the presenters’ websites so you can connect with them. Most of these presenters lead additional workshops and seminars or have wonderful craft books.

The Art of the Unlikeable Character – Miriam Gershow

In this seminar, we focused on how to make unlikeable characters, particularly narrators, successful in fiction. The major take-away from this seminar is that the unlikeable narrator/character is developed through a strong, unique voice, clear desires and goals (often ones that readers might find reprehensible – but that’s what makes them interesting, right?), and perhaps most importantly, relatability – some characteristic or quality that readers can relate to. Let’s face it – every one of us could possibly be an unlikeable narrator in our own stories, right? Everyone is a blend of likeable and unlikeable characteristics. The unlikeable narrator just wears their ickiness a little closer to the surface than the rest of us.

To learn more about Miriam and her publications, visit: Miriam Gershow

 

Location, Location, Location: Settings that Breathe, Create Mood, and Influence Story Events – Jessica Morrell

This was the first of two seminars led by Jessica Morrell which I attended this weekend. In this seminar, we focused on setting. Because Jessica provides such a wealth of information, I could write pages on this seminar (because I took pages of notes!), but I’m going to focus on the key takeaways:

  • Settings have to be believable – make use of resources such as Google Earth and Google maps to ensure accuracy
  • Settings should enhance and underscore the emotional landscape the characters are moving through
  • Settings should be specific and authentic – the setting is where you root your reader in the world – don’t skimp on the details!

Resources for helping with setting are, as mentioned, Google Earth and Google maps, as well as a website suggested by another attendee: Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, which he explained was a website where you could write to someone in, say, Winnamucca, NV and ask him or her to give you information on some aspect of the setting. I have not used this yet, but it sounds like a great resource!

For more on Jessica Morrell, her publications, and her craft books, visit: Jessica Morrell

 

Poetry as Prose – Robert Vivian

In this seminar, I was expecting a little more talk on craft – i.e. how to make our prose sound more poetic. This seminar was ultimately more of a discussion on how the publication system and we as writers create false boundaries around the idea of genre – that fiction can only be fiction and not poetry; that narrative non-fiction can only be essays; and so on. Robert Vivian is a brilliant writer, and I greatly enjoyed listening to his lecture on breaking free of form and pushing through the limitations of genre. For experimental writers, this is probably already an integrated part of your writing life, but for myself and I sense others in the room, this was a wonderful “aha” moment. I would still have liked a little more craft to this seminar, such as suggestions and exercises for helping us to write into the poetic places of our brains, which for me does not always come second nature. All craft aside, Robert was warm, personable, and heartfelt. I strongly recommend reading his works, which are now on my list for my next trip to Powell’s.

To learn more about Robert Vivian and his publications, visit: Robert Vivian.

 

The Life Changing Magic of Revision – Natalie Serber

Revision has slowly evolved in my life from a thing to be despised and avoided to one of my closest allies. Whenever I write about revision, I bring out that old hat: “writing is rewriting.” Why? Because It’s True! In my younger writing days, I would write story after story after story, determined to become the kind of writer who could just write the perfect story right out of the gate. Then I pulled my head out of my you-know-where, and I started revising. Good strategies for revision are a must.

And part of revision is also realizing there is more than one way to tell a story. In Natalie’s class, we took a scene and rewrote it four ways to see how these changes evoke different aspects of the story. As Natalie said in her lecture, “compressed experience evokes emotional truth.” To try this out, write a heated scene between two people; it must contain dialogue. For your second pass, write this same exact scene from the perspective of a fly on the wall, a dog, a cat, or an inanimate object. For your third pass, write the scene with only action, no dialogue at all. And finally, for your fourth pass, write the scene in which both characters say everything they are thinking. Explore your four scenes – what evolved? What emotional truths come out? Are these truths best displayed through dialogue, the perspective of an objective narrator, or action?

Natalie also shared a revision strategy in which she takes a sheet of paper and draws a diagonal line from each corner, creating a giant x. Then, she puts a circle in the middle and writes the character’s name. Then, in each quartile, she describes what the character would see in front, behind, to the left, and to the right. Doing this has helped her discover new props and items within the scene that lead to unexpected actions, dialogue, and so on. She suggested this method for when you hit a wall and are unsure what the character would do or say next. Imagining the character’s world in this way can uncover unexpected props that lead to the next moment of action.

To learn more about Natalie and her publications, visit: Natalie Serber